Conor Backman

March 04, 2014, 7:00pm

Mirror Stage: An Interview with Conor Backman

We trace history in a similar way we trace source. The significance of certain symbols have a sense of time to them, which is neither part of the object, nor a prescription onto the object – but an affect of belonging, in a condensed perspective, from a certain point in time. This is how a lot of subjects in pre-modern painting history operate. However, how we are able to codify and redact certain elements in this history as belonging to a stylized moment is always overthrown by quotation. Styles are recycled, borrowed, and misplaced within a linear timeline – as if painters were forever throwing the images within the current object they are painting into the cannon of the past by sampling tropes and motifs of another time.

Conor Backman is a versatile painter who is able to engage with this cannon, while still existing very much in the present. The sense of time in his paintings belongs to various moments at once, carrying the significance of pre-modern subjects that once operated as symbols, the preoccupation with flatness as a form discovered with modernism, and the post-modern all-over appropriation that works its way into how we deal with mediated space through a different, more contemporary lens of painting. Like most artists whose work I discover, I first accessed Backman’s work online. His work can also be viewed in person in Fruits/Flowers/Appliances, currently on view at LVL3. Below is the record of a series of conversations we had on ideas of flatness, painting as trade, trompe l’oeil, and levels of mediation and reduction in representational painting. – Stephanie Cristello, Chicago Contributor


Conor Backman | limonaia, oil on canvas and black plexiglass in artist’s frame, 18”x24”, 2013

Listed under: Interview

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